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2024 CAGGNI Board of Directors


Board Position Descriptions


Cathy Gulbrantson

Contact: president @

member since 18 Sep 2011
President (2022-present)
Secretary (2021-2022)
FTM SIG chair (2020)
Road Trip Committee (2019-present)

Cathy has been working on genealogy on and off for about 25 years after her paternal aunt provided the print out of a family tree at a family reunion. She has traced her French-Canadian ancestors back to the mid-1650s and is trying to trace her Irish side back to Cork, Galway and Monaghan Counties. Having done DNA testing, Cathy connected with cousins living 10 minutes from her daughter in St. Paul, MN. Cathy was a 2019 Road Trip committee member for the trip to Washington, DC, and was the acting FTM SIG lead for part of 2020. Cathy retired as an IT Project Manager in 2015 and worked in various IT roles for over 40 years. Living in Palatine, she has been married for over 30 years, has two grown children and two cats.

Past President
Alan Wilson                                   

Contact: pastpresident @

member since: 9 Nov 2007

Internet SIG (2017-present)
President (2016-2020)
FTM Chair (2011-2015)
DNA SIG Co-Chair (2015-2019)

Alan Wilson has been working on the genealogy of his family since 2007. He has used various software tools and databases, including Family Tree Maker, Ancestry, The Master Genealogist, Webtrees, WikiTree and Gramps. Alan became interested in DNA for genealogy in 2008. Since then he has tested with Family Tree DNA and Ancestry, and has used DNA comparisons on Family Tree DNA, DNAGedCom, GedMatch, Y-Search, YBase and Ancestry. 

Alan is currently Past President and leader of the Internet SIG. He is a regular contributor to the CAGGNI monthly newsletter and a past leader of the Family Tree Maker Special Interest Group (2011-2015). Alan lives in Long Grove and is married to fellow CAGGNI member Michelle Bray Wilson. 


Vice President/Program Chair
Liz Ross

Contact: programs @; vicepresident @

member since: Dec 2012
Program Chair/VP (2023-present)
GeneaQuest Chair (2021-2022)

Liz Ross has been researching since “pre-Ancestry” and cut her genealogical teeth on Civil War pension records at NARA. She researches Utah to D.C., lectures regionally and writes a “not everyday” blog at She is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists.

Liz was a professional cellist before turning her focus to genealogy. She lives in River Forest with her husband Bob.


Kathy Murray

Contact: secretary @; archivist @

member since 09 Oct 2017
Secretary (2023-present)

Kathy’s genealogy research began after typing the name of her biological grandmother into FamilySearch and finding a tree. The family’s Chicago roots started in the 1840s but DNA testing has led to communication with cousins in Ireland, England and other places in the United States. One find, through a DNA match, was learning that descendants of her great-great McGuane grandparents continue to live on the same farm in Ballymacaula, County Clare, Ireland.  

Kathy is a software engineer at a defense contractor in Rolling Meadows.


Bill Neurauter

member since: May 2016
Treasurer (2019-present)

Bill started his interest in genealogy in the spring of 2012 when a friend found an overview on of his paternal great-grandfather Sebastian, who was living in Etz-Tirol, Austria, in 1881, before leaving for Hamburg with his two brothers and a sister-in-law. Bill relied on Google and before doing his DNA with 23andMe and AncestryDNA. He recently contacted a second cousin on his mother’s side, who he never knew.

Bill has a background in accounting and retired from the Illinois Air National Guard and Air Force Reserves after 32 years. He is licensed in Illinois for personal lines of Insurance. He and his wife, Marlene, met square dancing, where they have been active in the Chicago Metro Council and State Council of Square Dancing.


Membership Chair
Larry Olson

Contact: membership @

member since: 31 Dec 1994

Membership Chair (2024-present)
RootsMagic and TMG Special Interest Group Leader (2015-present)
Promotions and Publicity (2015-2017)
Secretary (2013-2014)
Membership Chair (2003-2005)
Genealogy Mentor (2002)
Program/Publicity Chair (1999-2001)
President (1996-1998)

Larry Olson is a Minnesota native who has been doing family research since the early 1970s, when a grandmother told him he was related to John Philip Sousa. He has never proved that legend, but he's discovered a lot of other things and had a great time doing it (Norwegians and Germans on his side, and Swedes and Revolutionary War on his wife's). He hopes that one day someone in his immediate family will appreciate all the work he has done (while he was neglecting them for dead relatives and dusty old records...). Larry is retired from the IRS Crime Lab as a forensic document examiner.

One of Larry's proudest accomplishments was presiding when CAGGNI was born. The group had been created several years before as the Northern Illinois Personal Ancestral File User's Group (NIPAFUG) at the Schaumburg LDS Church. Because of increasing diversity of genealogical interests, the group decided to expand its scope and became the Computer Assisted Genealogy Group of Northern Illinois, or CAGGNI.


Newsletter Editor
Michelle Wilson                                      

Contact: newsletter @

member since: Nov 2007

Newsletter Editor (2023-present)
Vice President / Program Chair (2021-2022)
GeneaQuest Conference Chair (2019-2020)
President (2010-2013)
Membership Chair (2015-2017)
DNA SIG Chair/Co-Chair (2015-2016, 2020-present)

Michelle has been active in the local genealogy community for over a dozen years. In addition to holding multiple offices for CAGGNI, she speaks throughout the Midwest, most frequently on DNA, French Canada, ancient ancestry and creating family history books. She is currently Regent at a local DAR chapter. An engineer by training, Michelle worked in the medical device manufacturing and communication industries before taking on clients in genealogy. 


Promotions/Publicity Chair
Nancy I.Z. Reese

Contact: promotions @,
fundraising @

member since: 28 Jul 2012
Promotions Chair (2023-present)
Website Content Director (2016-2022)

Nancy began her search in 2000 for her ancestors, most of whom arrived in the U.S. before the Civil War. She has researched in archives and libraries across the U.S. and will never forget finding the obituary of her great-great-great grandmother, who died in Oregon, in a small town library in Indiana. Nancy later discovered that this great-something grandmother was the granddaughter of a Revolutionary War soldier.

Nancy retired in 2012 after 32 years with the Chicago Tribune. She now volunteers at the Mount Prospect Historical Society and the Mount Prospect Public Library in its genealogy department. She is past president of the Garden Club of Mount Prospect. Nancy has served on the newsletter, the road trip and GeneaQuest committees. She and her husband, John, a golf professional, enjoy antiquing in their spare time.


Website Content Director
John Stryker

Contact: webmaster @

member since: 06 Jul 2008
Website Content Director (2023-present)

John Stryker is retired from being distinguished professor and chair of Computer Technologies and Information Systems at Oakton Community College in Des Plaines. He is a member of the CAGGNI technology team. John speaks at CAGGNI and other groups, including an annual feature on technology.

He holds a B.S. in Actuarial Science from the University of Illinois and an M.S. in Computer Science from Northeastern Illinois University.


GeneaQuest Conference Chair
Cathy Gulbrantson & Larry Olson

Contact: geneaquest @

See bios above.

Road Trip Chair
Marti Gustafson                                          

Contact:  RoadTripChair @

member since: Feb 2015
Road Trip Chair (2016-present)

Marti was born and raised in Evanston, IL. She began her search in genealogy in 1991 after the death of her mother. Her dad told her that he was of German decent and from Germany. It was not until she went to the Newberry Library that she found out the Welters came from Luxembourg. Marti started her genealogy research with the Family Tree Maker CD and the free 3 months subscription to Ancestry. 

Marti has worked in information technology for 20 years, including at Sears Holding in Hoffman Estates. Prior to that, she worked as a statistician for Washington National Insurance in Evanston and Allstate Insurance in Northbrook. Marti joined CAGGNI because she was interested in the road trips – now she is the chair of the committee.


Special Interest Group Leaders

Family Tree Maker SIG 
Marty Acks

Contact:  ftm @

member since: Jan 2016

FTM chair (2022-present)
Promotions/Publicity Chair (2018-2022) 

Marty became a genealogy enthusiast in 1999 after having caught the bug from his mom and dad. He continues to expand on their work to this day. He currently volunteers at WikiTree where he contributes to the global family tree, leads multiple surname studies, assists other members and monitors activity as a WikiTree Ranger. Marty is also a member and volunteer at Downers Grove Historical Society. Marty’s vacations now often include a hunt for ancestors. In 2016 he traveled to Scotland to visit the ancestral homeland of the Porterfields, on his maternal grandmother's side.

Retired from the computer software industry, specializing in payments and e-commerce websites, Marty was also a co-founder of Silvon Software in Westmont, IL. He lives in Downers Grove with his wife, Carine. They have one adult son, a daughter-in-law and two grandchildren. 



RootsMagic and TMG SIG
Larry Olson

Contact:  tmg @

See above for Larry‘s bio.


Reunion SIG
Bruce Christopher

member since: 19 Jan 2013
Reunion for Mac Special Interest Group Leader (2015-present)

Contact:  reunion @
(please include the word genealogy in the subject line)

Bruce started studying his family tree in high school and can even say he started using computers in this hobby as early as 1972, though in a very limited way. His areas of research include Scandinavia, British Isles, Canada and Colonial America. Since 2011, he has participated in DNA testing. 

Bruce joined CAGGNI in 2013 and became the Reunion SIG leader in 2015. He has been a user of Reunion for Macintosh since at least 1998 and has used it to build a fairly large family tree and publish it online with photos and source citations.


Internet SIG
Alan Wilson

Internet Special Interest Group Leader (2016-present)

Contact: internetSIG @

See Alan's bio above.


Michelle Wilson   

DNA Special Interest Group Leader (2020-present)

Contact: dna @

See above for Michelle's bio.

Storytellers SIG
Marti Swanson

member since: 2009
Storytellers Workshop Leader (2015-present)

Contact:  storyteller @

Marti is a retired English teacher who's active in retired teachers' activities on the local, regional and state level. She belongs to several genealogical societies, both county-based and surname-based, and publishes a newsletter for one surname. She has a 5-acre natural yard featuring close to 100 kinds of wildflowers, lots of oaks and hickories and two ponds. She has 2 dogs, 3 children, 4 grands and 5 greats.


Colonial America SIG
Mary Hoyer   

Member since: 20 Feb 2009

Contact: colonial @

This SIG has as its objective the study of America’s 13 colonies – their creation, their history including a timeline for each, sources of information, identification of ancestors and relatives, understanding of the geography and an exchange of information by attendees.

Immigration and migration patterns will be explored and in-depth explanations of how to uncover information beyond names/dates/places will be discussed. Lineage societies will be explained and amazing resources like the Library of Virginia and the Germanna Foundation will be covered.


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CAGGNI, P.O. Box 59567, Schaumburg, IL 60159-0567
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